petite anglaise

June 23, 2008

ring finger

Filed under: knot tying — petiteanglaise @ 10:51 am
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When I was pregnant with Tadpole, I developed a heightened sense of awareness of other pregnant women. Suddenly they seemed to be everywhere I looked. I suspected that, in reality, they’d been there all along. My radar simply hadn’t been picking them up.

Sure enough, soon after Tadpole was born, my blinkers went back on and I was probably as guilty as the next métro passenger of failing to pull my nose out of my newspaper and stumble to my feet to give up my seat when an expectant mother joined the carriage.

Since my wedding day, I’ve developed a new obsession. Whether I’m sitting outside a café watching the world stroll by, doing my grocery shopping at Franprix or dropping off Tadpole at school, my eyes are irresistibly drawn to the fourth finger of everyone’s left hand, curious to see how many people around me are wearing a wedding ring.

‘Is it noticeable?’ I ask Meg as we drain the last dregs of our beers outside Aux Folies one evening. ‘I’m hyper aware of it right now… I think it’s because I’m not used to wearing a ring on that particular finger.’

At that moment the proprietor sidles up behind us. ‘Are you ladies leaving?’ he says, looking disappointed at the prospect. ‘Because if you’re staying, I was about to offer you a free round…’ Never one to turn down free drinks, we order the same again, smiling sweetly at our benefactor.

When I remark upon the fact that I’ve never had free drinks at this particular bar before, Meg grins widely and points at my décolleté. My favourite item of clothing so far this summer has been a short-sleeved, knee-length t-shirt dress with thin navy-blue and cream horizontal stripes. It has (what I think is called) a cowl neck, and this has relaxed somewhat with every successive wash, revealing a little more flesh each time I wear it. ‘You’ll notice,’ she adds, ‘that the barman has been lingering behind us every time he brings out someone’s drinks… I’d say he’s admiring the view.’

I hastily rearrange my dress, trapping a little material under my bra straps as insurance against a wardrobe malfunction. ‘Well, I don’t mind free drinks,’ I say, ‘but hopefully he’s noticed I’m wearing a ring and won’t attempt to chat me up…’

‘Honey, we live in France,’ Meg says drily. ‘Which means you’re still fair game, as far as French men are concerned. In this country, a wedding ring is like a red rag to a bull. Remember that French guy I dated who said his mother taught him it was his duty to sleep with as many married women as possible? She claimed they were those most in need of having their sex lives spicing up…’

Hiking my dress up a little further, I wonder if this is woefully inaccurate cultural stereotype, a scene from a Nancy Mitford novel or an accurate assessment of how French men regard marriage.

Now that I’m wearing a ring, I guess I’m about to find out firsthand.

June 11, 2008

the big day

Filed under: knot tying — petiteanglaise @ 11:31 am

I can’t think about my wedding day, or look at the photos I’ve received so far (and there are many, many more to come) without grinning like the Cheshire cat. But I’m not sure I can write about it in a coherent way, so I’m going to tear a leaf out of best woman Meg‘s book and turn the spotlight on a list of the moments which stand out the most in my mind, instead.

 

  • staggering to the front door at 8.30 am, strung out on hairspray, to take surprise delivery of a bouquet of bonbons, courtesy of my lovely agent;
  • arriving at the mairie and seeing Manuel’s face when I stepped gingerly out of the taxi, still a little wobbly on those heels;
  • observing with much amusement how his eyes kept returning, spellbound, to my cleavage (see photo 1 above);
  • clinging to Rhino75‘s arm as I climbed the staircase at the mairie (some of you will recall that he was, in part, responsible for our union);

 

  • watching Tadpole parade around the aisles of the salle des mariages while the ceremony was in full swing, proudly showing off her dress and my bouquet and totally stealing the show;
  • giggling up front with Manuel, both of us desperate to fast forward to the exchange of rings;
  • the moment when the master of ceremonies asked me what I wrote (my occupation being listed as ‘writer’ in the documents we signed) and then saying ‘ah, mais c’est vous qui écrivez sur le web?’;
  • being presented with the livret de famille and encouraged to go forth and procreate NINE times (nine being the number of blank pages waiting to be filled with the birth details of our offspring);
  • being presented with Tadpole’s ‘Mum Got Married’ picture during lunch;
  • watching a good friend – heart in my mouth – stand on a wheelie bin so that the baker could pass the two macaron pièces montées over the garden wall (the keys to the garden door having temporarily gone AWOL);

 

  • the moment at the party when we were summoned to the centre of the room and presented with a globe, signed by everyone present and with an arrow pointing from Paris to Bélize where a group of Manuel’s friends are sending us on our honeymoon;
  • the saucy gifts courtesy of Manuel’s work buddies, who somehow knew that I’d always wanted to test drive an anneau vibrant, the bashful look on the face of the colleague who had brought flowers but was too shy to approach me;
  • pulling out fifty thousand hairpins from my scalp to reveal a ponytail full of anglaises;
  • the way my skirt went horizontal when I twirled, revealing my wedding night undies to everyone present;
  • snuggling up under a duvet between Nico and Meg in a témoin “sandwich” at 8am;
  • going to sleep on an improvised lit de noces – a mattress in the middle of the main party room – surrounded by broken glass and empty champagne bottles, at 10 am, when the last guests had finally drifted away.

 

June 8, 2008

le mariage

Filed under: knot tying — petiteanglaise @ 9:51 pm

Dress: Moschino
Shoes: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Suit: Dior Homme
Hair and make up: Elisabeth Coiffure

update: more photos here.

June 6, 2008

going going going gone…

Filed under: knot tying — petiteanglaise @ 11:38 pm

I intended to post properly today. I really did. I had something deep and meaningful in mind. Something about what marriage actually means to me.

But I only just finished preparing our party venue (a very nice appartment in an hôtel particulier which looks fine now, but at 4pm, when the bachelor boys who live there had not yet removed their festering clothes and dog-eared possessions, looked anything but).

It’s been a long, long day, and the hairdresser from hell is coming to tame my hair into a chignon in approximately six hours time, using my scalp as a pincushion and asphyxiating me with several litres of Elnett hair spray.

Hopefully I will be able to prevent her from transforming me into a cast member of Priscilla Queen of the Desert when it comes to make-up time.

Watch this space…

May 22, 2008

blank

Filed under: good time girl, knot tying — petiteanglaise @ 1:13 pm

The non-hen night started off well enough.

I caught the Eurostar with my non-bridesmaid Meg. (Admittedly with only seconds to spare. If ever you make a date with Meg, it pays to factor in a degree of tardiness.) We sipped champagne and picked at our Eurostar lunch as we sped towards London under flinty skies. Every few minutes I put down my copy of Heat magazine, with a sigh, to field yet another text message from one of the attendees, wondering how on earth people ever made plans before the age of the mobile phone.

Our plan for the day included a lightning visit to TopShop, an afternoon rendez-vous at The Champion pub in Bayswater, a possible picnic in Kensington Gardens (which was looking increasingly unlikely as London approached and the clouds showed no sign of clearing) and, finally, an evening meet at The Walmer Castle, Notting Hill, for a Thai meal.

My friends had been warned that as this was a non-hen night, strippers, L-plates, chicken costumes, weird headgear, matching T-shirts or other horrorshow props were strictly prohibited. Several male friends had also been invited in an attempt to mitigate excesses of girliness. The only bacherlotte party tradition I did uphold was the Boy’s absence. He was safely on the other side of the English Channel, no doubt playing poker.

3pm saw me sitting on a balding Chaise Longue in The Champion, a pint of cider in my hand, surrounded by half a dozen of my closest friends. The picnic plan had been ditched, and we’d ordered a few snacks to mop up the alcohol instead. I was taking things slowly. All was well in my world.

Then my best friend from university, dismayed at the dismally slow progress I was making with my pint, returned from the bar to remedy the situation, carrying two shots (1 vodka, 1 Sambuca). At approximately the same time, Meg bought a bottle of wine for some random Dutch boys who had been quietly propping up the bar and asked them to do a little dance for me, in return. She then produced a handful of fluorescent mini feather boas, a hideous pink plastic necklace and a hair clip (with pink bow attached) and began to advance towards me.

I raised the first of the two shot glasses to my mouth. And the next five hours – from approximately 5pm until 10pm – are blank.

I’m told I ripped university friend’s top – and have seen photographic evidence to support this claim – but can summon up no memory of the occurrence whatsoever. I’m told I tipped over the back of the chaise longue, landing on the floor with my legs in the air. Again, this feels true, but I have only a vague recollection of the feeling of smooth, cold tiles against my back – there is no visual memory at all.

And yet the photographs and videos I’ve seen show me looking tipsy but functional: sitting, standing, walking, talking, laughing (and drinking). It’s as though the lights were on, but there was no one home. My body switched onto autopilot, ceased to record anything, and partied on without me.

I ‘came to’ in the Thai restaurant and the rest of the night, which ended around 3 am, I recollect with perfect clarity.

On the Eurostar home, Meg obligingly filled in my memory gaps, prompting several ‘Oh no, please say I didn’t’s and a multitude of groans. The only advantage of not remembering was that it was virtually impossible to feel ashamed of my behaviour. What happens in the black hole, stays in the black hole, and frankly it might as well all have happened to someone else.

‘Your mission at the wedding, should you choose to accept it,’ I said when she had finished, ‘is to ensure my glass is never filled.’

April 2, 2008

jarretière

Filed under: knot tying — petiteanglaise @ 9:33 am

When I asked The Boy to marry me, we decided that if we were going to do this thing, we’d do it our way. That essentially involved taking the bits we liked (clothes, jewellery, party), leaving the bits we didn’t (sugared almonds, seating plans, speeches, name changes, wedding lists filled with fine china and solid silver salt and pepper pots) and making a few practical decisions (marriage contract – séparation des biens – at The Boy’s behest).

Nine weeks away from Jour J, things are on their way to being organised, although not half as much as the super-secretary I once was would secretly like. I have a dress. He’s ordered a suit. We have rings on order. I still need shoes (red, I think). The evening party venue – a house borrowed from a friend – is being renovated and is currently, ahem, not quite finished. We haven’t yet settled on a restaurant for lunch (although we are testing a candidate this evening) or worked out where to drink champagne beforehand. I have no idea who will tame my hair into a chignon at the crack of dawn so that I can get to the Mairie on time, and the invitations are still work in progress in photoshop.

To my horror, I’ve recently found myself having heated discussions with The Boy about petty things like wedding gifts, when it became evident that our mix and match approach was, in some respects, flawed. Our first instinct was to say that we didn’t want gifts at all. Until we find a new place to live (and frankly, right now, I have no time to look), we don’t have an inch of extra space. And we don’t really need anything. But then guests started asking about wedding lists, and I realised that they’d like to make a gesture. And in return for all the things we’ll be laying on, I grudgingly came to the conclusion that it made sense to let them.

‘Well, we could have an urn,’ suggested The Boy. ‘Or do the jarretière? Just don’t ask me to pick out knives, forks and spoons. Anything but that…’

I wondered how gifts and garters could be related. Google, as always, provided the answer.

It is customary, I read, for a French bride to wear a garter. Often a blue and white garter, as the something old/new/borrowed/blue tradition appears to exist on both sides of the English Channel. (I was planning to ignore this.) What I didn’t know was that there is a tradition involving male guests tucking money into said garter, in exchange, in some circles, for the bride raising her dress, just a little, in exchange for every donation. Sometimes the female guests will put in counter bids, thereby enabling the bride to lower her skirt before things get too graphic. The Boy seemed to think that the whole thing usually ends with one of the male guests – the highest bidder – removing the jarrettière with his teeth.

I suspect the boundaries of his own fantasies and French tradition became a little blurred at that point.

‘There is no way I’m performing some sort of wedding strip tease!’ I said indignantly. ‘And anyway, my skirt is already just above the knee, and you know how sensitive I am about my thighs.’

We settled on a honeymoon holiday fund at Printemps instead, that people are free to contribute to, or not, as they wish. And as for the garter, The Boy will just have to wait until Jour J to find out whether I’ll be wearing one.

But if I do, it will be for his eyes only.

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